In our recent interview series we asked “Do you have any advice for other cross-cultural couples?”

The answers were so good that they deserve a post of their own. Here they are, with some extra tips from the PocketCultures team and our readers.

Photo credit

1. Understand, respect and adapt where necessary

“Try to understand and appreciate each other’s cultures as much as possible. Also, adapt to fit into the culture where necessary. You’ll get more respect from people that way.” (Sharell)

“Be patient if your partner doesn’t understand cultural references, he/she grew up in a different country watching different TV shows, listening to different music, reading different books, and so on.” (Ana)

“If you feel yourself getting angry at something your partner has said or done, take a second to think about whether you may be approaching the situation through different cultural filters before you react. Deciding how you are going to work through any differences in viewpoint is a great way to strengthen your relationship.” (Marie)

“Be patient, understanding and respectful of other ways of doing things, the other values people have or different ways of looking at the world. Understanding the different frameworks used to analyze cultures helps offer insight into why your partner does some things certain ways. Communication is crucial, as is compromise! This is true in any relationship, but cross-cultural couples might need to work a little harder at it.” (Liz)

2. Learn your partner’s language

“Learn each other’s languages and, if possible, spend a good amount of time in each other’s countries. This is key to understanding your partner’s perspective and it alleviates a good deal of miscommunication.” (Matthew and Shinichi)

“I agree that both members of the couple need to speak both languages so that both can: laugh at the same jokes; express how they feel more clearly and understand the other’s point of view (it has happened to me that when I’m in distress or really pissed off I revert to Spanish, my first language); visit each other’s families and be able to communicate with the relatives without the need of a translator (otherwise it can be stressful and incredibly boring!)” (Ana)

3. Think about where to live

“Be sure to discuss where you would like to live for the rest of your lives – this could be a tough discussion but you have to have it.” (Anna and Bose)

“Spending time together in a third country is a fantastic way to strengthen your relationship. It puts you in a situation where you are both equally foreign and you learn to work as a couple instead of relying on the one who is in their home country.” (Matthew and Shinichi)

“For the partner who is living in his/her native country, it is essential to be patient with the partner who is living abroad. Living abroad is a constant adjustment and sacrifice, and it doesn’t always get easier with time. My partner and I spend time in Brazil as often as possible so that he feels connected to his native country and family.” (Jenna)

4. Pass on both cultures to your children

“Try to raise your children bilingually. It can be difficult, but there are huge advantages. I know children of multicultural families who regret not speaking the language of both parents.” Liz

“If you have children I think it is crucial they grow up knowing both cultures, it will make them richer human beings.” (Elizabeth)

5. Embrace the differences!

“Cultural differences exist when it comes to relationships and raising children. Try to accept them rather than trying to change the other person.” (Jenna)

“We need to embrace our cultural differences. We’ll never understand our partner 100 percent (anyway, who does?), but knowing what our differences are makes it a little easier.” (Ana)

What advice would you give to cross-cultural couples and multicultural families?

Read more:
English empanadas and Argentinian bubble and squeak?
An extraordinary journey
5 tips for raising a bilingual child

About the author

Lucy is English and first ventured out of the UK she was 19. Since then she has lived in 4 different countries and tried to see as much of the world as possible. She loves learning languages, learning about different cultures and hearing different points of view.